Readers of this blog may recall I’ve posted occasionally about The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure, a new anthology I sold to Pegasus Books as literary agent. The last time I wrote about it, Oct 10, it had just received two excellent pre-publication reviews, from Publishers Weekly and AuthorLink. Now the book is out and available in bookstores and it continues to draw praise, the latest coming from Michael Dirda, a critic whose literary recommendations I’ve enjoyed for many years. Offering his annual roundup of gift books for the holidays, Dirda tendered this brief encomium:
The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure (Pegasus, $24.95), selected and edited by Lawrence Ellsworth. Captain Blood, Zorro, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Brigadier Gerard, Robin Hood; stories with titles such as “Pirate’s Gold” and “The Queen’s Rose”—this is just the gift for, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s words, “the boy who’s half a man, OR the man who’s half a boy.”
In the early 2000s, Dirda moderated a weekly online chat on washingtonpost.com in which he consistently offered erudite yet accessible book chat. I rarely missed one of them, and would often print out the whole chat to keep as a reference. In that forum, Dirda distinguished himself as the least snobbish of critics. No matter what readers might throw at him—whether asking about James Joyce, John Milton, or nearly forgotten authors of genre fiction—he always made smart and generous comments. He’s also an author, with several books to his name, two of which I’ve enjoyed (pictured below). It’s fun to have a book be included in Michael Dirda’s gift suggestions, so if you’re looking for a book for a certain kind of reader, someone who relishes pirate lore, swordplay, movies like “Captain Blood,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” and “Zorro,” the seafaring novels of Patrick O’Brian, and the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser, The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure is sure to strike the right chord. You can buy it via this Amazon link, where it is currently riding high as their #1 bestseller among anthologies of historical fiction.